From a letter from W. H. Auden chastising his pastor at St. Marks in the Bowery for changes to the liturgy:

Our Church has had the singular good-fortune of having its Prayer-Book composed and its Bible translated at exactly the right time, i.e., late enough for the language to be intelligible to any English-speaking person in this century (any child of six can be told what “the quick and the dead” means) and early enough, i.e., when people still had an instinctive feeling for the formal and the ceremonious which is essential in liturgical language . . .

I implore you by the bowels of Christ to stick to Cranmer and King James.


Though I walk by St. Mark’s regularly, I’ve never ventured in for liturgy; according to one recent visitor , “It’s like RENT meets church.” I wonder what Auden would say today.

Articles by Meghan Duke

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